Congratulations! Your portfolio is perfect. The collection of companies that you have assembled is -- mwah, tresmagnifique -- the perfect combination of bottle rocket and short wick. Celebrated investors like Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, and David Gardner have you on speed dial. Riches beyond measure are just a few trading days away.

Now, I'd love to tell you that with a straight face. Really. I'd love to deny that I saw you nodding along with me just now. It's human nature, really. Every investor thinks he owns the best stocks. It's a bit like rooting for your alma mater's football team or cheering on that lottery ticket or roulette wheel. You think you've got a fighting chance to win -- or you wouldn't be there at all.

It's not hopeless. Beating the market is a lot easier than you think. It's just a matter of identifying the great growth stocks of tomorrow before the rest of the market comes around. Sound daunting? It isn't, really.

Best of breed in a flea-ridden world
By now you've probably heard the expression "best of breed" a countless number of times -- and you're probably wondering what it's all about. In the corporate software space, the phrase refers to cherry-picking the best applications that excel at a particular task. Instead of resorting to the integrated one-vendor solution suite, you assemble a hodgepodge of specialized brands. It's not the easy way out. It is, however, the best way out.

When you think about it, investing is just like that. Even if your portfolio is heavily weighted toward a particular sector, or if there is a theme that resonates throughout your holdings, every stock you own is unique. To you, it was the best of its breed.

"Best of breed" has evolved in recent years. These days, it's the process of ferreting out the superior company in a particular sector. If you're talking search engines, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) comes to mind. Even a battered industry like air carriers allows a JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) to float to the top.

The market rewards excellence. That's why finding these top performers is often a financially rewarding quest. What could be better than that? Well, for one, identifying these best-of-breed companies just as they begin to shine.

Finding great growth stocks early is what our Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service aims to achieve. It's not an intimidating process. Who here didn't know that companies such as eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) were up to something special early in their tenure? If you weren't familiar with their models, you could still have warmed up to their income statements.

Decelerate at the sign of acceleration
Netflix went public in 2002. The popular DVD rental specialist grew its sales the following year by a healthy 78%. Clearly, Netflix was promoting a service that was in high demand. Then something amazing happened: In 2004, the company grew its top line by 86%. That is called accelerating sales growth.

You just don't see that often. Logic would dictate that, as a company grows, it is doing so off a larger base of sales. That makes growth, on a percentage basis, more difficult to keep up with. Let's say a company produced revenue of $50 million one year, and then $100 million the next. That's a cool 100% growth in revenue. If it clocks in at $160 million the following year, that $60 million more in sales is even better than the $50 million it generated a year earlier. However, on a sales-growth basis, it would simply mark a 60% improvement from the previous year's $100 million sum.

The reason that shares of eBay finally started bouncing back this summer was that its domestic marketplace revenue business grew sequentially for the first time in years. Everyone had the online auctioneering giant pegged at a gradual scale toward maturity, only to find signs of life at its flagship U.S. site.

Yes, even large companies can step on the gas from time to time. It would serve investors well to pay attention. Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL) saw its fiscal 2003 revenues inch just 8% higher. Fiscal 2004 brought a refreshing 33% surge. Through the first nine months of 2005, the top line has soared 73% higher. Investors who paid attention and bought into Apple when it was starting to accelerate two years ago are now sitting on a five-bagger. Even if it never dawned on you to try an iPod, it was easy to see Apple's bubbling appeal. The numbers don't lie.

The stock pick of the litter
China's NetEase.com (NASDAQ:NTES) grew revenue at 158% in 2003. When that figure fell to a more modest 59% uptick in 2004, investors began to grow cautious about the company's prospects. They dismissed the region's long-term potential. In the near term, they underestimated the rising popularity of NetEase's booming online gaming business among Chinese citizens. Big mistake. This past quarter, NetEase revenues rose by 90%, thanks to a 147% explosion in its Web-enabled role-playing games.

NetEase shares have risen by roughly 40% since being recommended to Rule Breakers subscribers back in January.

Another accelerator in the tank has been Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG). Revenue grew by just 27% in 2003, but the company's line of robotic surgical arms was starting to gain wider acceptance in the operating room. Revenue grew by 51% last year and surged 62% higher through the first half of 2005. The company was singled out in the newsletter six months ago, and the stock has shot up by better than 60% in that brief time.

Of course, it helps if you understand why growth is accelerating. Whether it's an established company with a suddenly vibrant appendage (like Apple) or a promising upstart bent on rewriting the rules (like Netflix), knowing a little about the disruptive shift that is taking place helps. However, you can always lean back on the income statement. Organic acceleration in sales growth is nothing to scoff at.

If you don't want to screen for success alone, why don't you join us in the Rule Breakers community? We're doing just that around the clock -- and now you can kick the tires for free as part of a 30-day free trial.

Congratulations! Your portfolio is perfect -- as in perfectly waiting for you to take the next step in market enlightenment.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix, but no other companies mentioned in this article. He is a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its stage of defiance. Netflix, eBay, and JetBlue are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Motley Fool isinvestors writing for investors.